Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Jury Theorems

Dietrich, Franz and Spiekermann, Kai (2016): Jury Theorems.


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We give a review of jury theorems, including Condorcet's (1785) classic theorem and several later refinements and departures. The review comes with a critique of jury theorems from a social-epistemology perspective. We assess the plausibility of the theorems' conclusions and premises and the potential of jury theorems to serve as formal arguments for the 'wisdom of crowds'. In particular, we argue (i) that there is a fundamental tension between voters' independence and voters' competence, hence between the two premises of typical jury theorems; (ii) that the (asymptotic) conclusion that 'huge groups are infallible', reached by many jury theorems, is an artifact of unjustified premises; and (iii) that the (non-asymptotic) conclusion that 'larger groups are more reliable', also reached by many jury theorems, is not an artifact and should be regarded as the more adequate formal rendition of the 'wisdom of crowds'.

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